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NARB Reviewer Says AT&T Cable Broadband Knocks Are Unsupported

AT&T logo on Whitacre Tower
(Image credit: AT&T)

A national ad self-regulatory body has asked AT&T to pull three TV commercials and pull or change a fourth that bad mouthed cable broadband and touted AT&T's superiority, but it did find some comparative claims were supported. Comcast had complained about the ads which AT&T had defended.

That final decision came in recommendations from the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), which hears appeals of decisions by National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, which oversees advertising self-regulation. NARB's decisions are not binding, but come in the form of recommendations.

AT&T said it will comply but still thinks NARB was wrong to recommend modifying some AT&T Fiber ads.

Specifically, NARB said that AT&T should stop airing three ads with unsupported claims that cable broadband upload speeds aren't fast enough to handle videoconferencing, as well as stop airing or modifying an ad that claimed AT&T Fiber was superior to cable for videoconferencing and overall reliability.

NARB said: “[AT&T’s] ‘Special Lady’ commercial inaccurately conveys the message to reasonable consumers that cable services have a high degree of unreliability in providing basic videoconferencing as a consequence of substandard upload speeds. Further, both the ‘Super Fan’ and ‘Spanish Language’ commercials portray situations where cable subscribers are unable to connect to videoconferencing.”

The decision was just the latest in a regular round robin of complaints and counter complaints among service providers. 

In January, and after AT&T had complained to NAD, got a favorable ruling, and Comcast appealed to NARB, Comcast agreed to drop or modify the claim that it had the Best In-Home WiFi experience after AT&T complained. Comcast also agreed to drop an ad that implied that AT&T customers contracted for a speed they did not get and that AT&T service is substandard.

A month later, NARB, following a complaint from Verizon Communications, recommended that AT&T AT&T should either stop making the claim that it is “building 5G on America's best network,” or clarify that the company is referring to is its 4G network. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.